Ireland is also a foodie’s paradise, with a number of regional dishes and drinks being impossible to resist trying, especially when you’re holed up in one of the many fantastic traditional pubs.

For an amazing mix of stunning landscapes that make it feel as though time has stood still and modern lively nightlife, it has to be Ireland.

irelandPopular ports in Ireland

Cork

Found on the picturesque south-west coast of Ireland, Cork is a county with a lot to offer, starting with the port itself. Cruise ships berth at the Cobh Cruise terminal, 13 miles from the centre of Cork, which gives fast access to the fascinating heritage centre that is on site and offers an in-depth understanding of Cork’s history, before you go and explore it in person.

Once you start to wander through Cork, you’ll be spoiled for choice in terms of experiences. St Patrick’s Street is a favourite area for keen shoppers, with a heady mix of good value and designer outlets, but there are some more unusual sights as well. Cork City Gaol in particular, draws crowds that find macabre history irresistible, but don’t forget about the kissable Blarney Stone, housed at its namesake castle.

cork irelandDublin

The capital city of the Republic of Ireland, Dublin has a central port that is a mere five-minute drive from the city itself, allowing for a fast transition from ship to shore.

A real city of contrasting sights and experiences, Dublin takes you from mountains to beaches and urban areas, all in one journey. Then there’s the food and drink – the Guinness Storehouse Factory tour is definitely worth a look, as is the iconic Temple Bar, but there’s food for the soul as well, thanks to the huge number of churches and cathedrals that are open to the public. St Patrick’s Cathedral, the largest in Ireland, will take your breath away, so be sure to take plenty of pictures.

dublinWhat are the best cruise ships for a cruise to Ireland?

If a cruise to Ireland sounds too fantastic to resist, there is definitely a perfect ship for you, whatever your needs or personal preferences.

P&O Oriana

Perfectly designed to cater to every dream-holiday whim, Oriana is a cruise ship that leaves nothing to chance. Offering a host of fantastic dining options, top-rated entertainment and luxurious sleeping quarters, it is the ideal ship for both first-time and experienced cruisers alike.

For more active types, the on-board gym facilities and sports courts are fantastic ways to spend a few hours, while also working up an appetite for some Michelin-starred food, courtesy of chef Atul Kochhar.

From cabins to suites, all the sleeping quarters are air-conditioned and luxuriously comfortable, helping you to wake up refreshed and ready to explore your destination.

Shore excursion ideas

There are countless incredible sights to seek out when visiting Ireland, so be sure to check with your cruise line where they can show you on a pre-arranged excursion and keep an eye out for these particular favourites.

Giant’s Causeway

Found in County Antrim, on the North Coast of Ireland, Giant’s Causeway is a fascinating landmark that was created as a result of a volcanic event. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it draws numerous visitors every year, thanks to the unusual hexagonal columns that disappear into the sea. Free to experience, with an optional pay-to-enter visitor centre, you can hike the expanses of rock, but be sure to wear suitable footwear, as the stepping stones can become slippery depending on the weather. For many people, you haven’t really experienced Ireland unless you visit Giant’s Causeway and scale the large stone steps.

giant's causeway irelandGlasnevin Cemetery

Visiting a cemetery might sound a little macabre, but Glasnevin is rather special. The largest cemetery in Ireland, it is the final resting place for a number of notable Irish figures, including Michael Collins, but it’s the startlingly beautiful Victorian styling that keeps people coming back. A walking tour is the best way to really experience the site, as your guide will give you the full history of the cemetery, while pointing out notable graves and entertaining you with stories of grave robbers, rogues and rascals. It’s fun for all the family, with a Gothic twist.

Newgrange

Keeping with the darker theme, the Newgrange passage tomb is a staggering feat of human accomplishment that makes a real impression on everyone that visits it. Located in the Boyne Valley, the tomb is a huge circular building, created by Stone Age farmers to align with the Winter Solstice, though it is a sight to behold all year round. Together with similar creations in Knowth and Dowth, Newgrange has been named as another Irish UNESCO World heritage Site that promises amazing photo opportunities and an experience that can’t be had anywhere else.

Kehoe’s

Kehoe’s is not your average bar, not least because it is one of the oldest in Dublin. Despite the heritage attached to this iconic drinking spot, it is anything but quiet or stoic, as it has a lively and sociable atmosphere that is unlike any other drinking establishment in the city. Furnished in a traditionally Victorian style, complete with stained glass and dark wood, the ambiance is cosy and snug, and there’s a definite sense of all the great writers who have enjoyed a tipple or two here, so if you’re a budding James Joyce, this is a must-see spot for you. Just don’t forget your notebook.

Top ports of call

  • Belfast
  • Cork
  • Dublin
  • Dún Laoghaire
  • Londonderry
  • Waterford